Archive for the ‘2014 indian chieftain’ Tag

Polaris reintroduces Indian motorcycles

2014 indian line-up copy

Three years ago Polaris Industries bought the historic Indian motorcycle brand and vowed to make it roar again.

The results of that boast have hit the streets, in the form of three mighty machines — the Indian Chief Classic, the Indian Chief Vintage and the Indian Chieftain.

The rollout represents a roll of the dice for the successful powersports company, which has managed to bring the three entirely new motorcycles to market in 27 months from concept to showroom — about half the time most companies take to develop a new bike.

Also, impressively, Polaris has done it at a price.

The company’s previous owners were selling the Indian Chief Vintage at $36,000. The 2014 model starts at less than $21,000. The Indian Chief Classic, the entry-level unit, costs under $19,000. The top-of-the-line Chieftain costs $22,999.

“We thought Indian was a great opportunity to create a high-quality bike with classic styling, true heritage and modern technology,” said Steve Menneto, Polaris’ vice president of motorcycles. “We wanted a great cruiser with real value, but it had to be a quintessential Indian.”

Indian began building motorcycles in 1901, and had a storied run, fielding the first V-twin engines and dominating the American racing scene well into the 1950s, when the original company went out of business. Multiple other attempts were made to re-start the historic brand, many resulting in new Chiefs hitting the road.

But the company gradually lost ground to its chief rival, Harley-Davidson, in part because it was slow to modernize. A joke inside the motorcycle community was that if you wanted a new Indian, buy a 40-year-old Harley.

No one will accuse the new owners of failing to bring the new lineup to modern standards.

The Chieftain features a keyless ignition, cruise control, an audio system that raises and lowers the volume as the bike speeds up and slows down, an iPod plug-in and an electronically adjustable windscreen. The dashboard offers the standard information, but also fuel range and tire pressure. The rear shocks are adjustable, providing a smoother ride when you carry a passenger.

Indian’s three new motorcycles are powered by a massive, 111-cubic-inch Thunderstroke engine, which delivers a studly 119 foot-pounds of torque. (Indian does not release horsepower figures. And you don’t want to know the gas mileage.) Each model is laden with leather fixtures and heavy metal, encrusted with chrome, and weighs over 800 pounds.

And though the Chieftain is the first Indian built with a fairing and hard-sided saddlebags, all three of the 2014 bikes sport the traditional Indian “war bonnet” on the front fender and the elegant fender skirts that recall the company’s 1930s glory days.

Polaris, based in Minnesota, launched the Victory line of street bikes 14 years ago, adding to its successful lineup of recreational off-road vehicles, snowmobiles and jet skis. That gave the company deep pockets to redevelop the Indian brand. Total Polaris revenue for 2012 was $3.2 billion, and 2013 is expected to show growth of 15% to 16%.

UPDATED Nov. 18, 2:20pm:

The company has not yet announced a Los Angeles dealer, and is relying for west coast sales on partnerships with dealers in Fresno, Dublin and Hollister, Ca., and in Las Vegas.

But Indian does offer an innovative “Fly & Ride” program, which offers a $250 rebate to any buyer who wants to fly in to a dealer area and ride home on a new motorcycle.

Building a successful dealer network will be key to Indian’s chances in the market. The company is on track to have 140 U.S. dealers on board by the end of the year. Dealers seem pleased with the new lineup.

Kevin King, General Manager of Arlen Ness Motorcycles in Dublin, Calif., said the new machines have exceeded dealer expectation and are a hit with buyers.

“They’re moving very well,” King said. “We have retailed everything they’ve sent us, and I could have sold many more if we’d had more.”

King said the buyers are men, 40 and older, and “seasoned, veteran riders.” He also said most are former or current Harley-Davidson owners, and 70% of them are buying the top-of-the-line Chieftain.

That profile fits new Indian buyer Ron Bruno of Corte Madera, Calif. He owns several Harleys, as well as a Ducati MultiStrada, and sold a BMW to make room in his garage for a 2014 Chieftain.

“I wanted to be part of the rebirth of the Indian brand,” said Bruno, 51, who is director of human resources for a retirement community. “I was blown away by the styling, and I had confidence in Polaris because of the success they’ve had with Victory.”

After 500 miles on the new Chieftain, Bruno said, “There’s nothing I want to change on this bike.”

With the rebirth of Indian, the company is aiming to take a bite out of the heavy cruiser market, which is dominated by Harley-Davidson.

Menneto’s ambition is to take 10% of the heavyweight market away from Harley within three years.

“We have a phenomenal competitor in Harley-Davidson,” he said. “But we can do that.”

For new owner Bruno, the difference between the two legendary American brands is one of emphasis.

“Harley is still making classic cruisers,” he said. “They have modern features, but at the end of the day it’s a motorcycle you could have bought in the 1960s. Indian is a modern motorcycle with classic features. They’ve switched the paradigm.”

Is that a winning formula? King, the dealer, thinks so.

“We sell a fair number of used Harleys, and I wish Harley-Davidson no ill will at all,” he said. “But they need to look very seriously at the competition.”

As read on: http://www.latimes.com/business/autos/la-fi-hy-indian-rides-again-20131115,0,7733382,full.story#axzz2lCZa3smH

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2014 Indian Chieftain First Ride

Of all the motorcycles Indian introduced last night to a packed house on Sturgis’ Main Street, the one that elicited the biggest response from the crowd was the 2014 Indian Chieftain. And for good reason. The sculpted fairing has a bold, aggressive design, blending the new and exciting with familiar cues like the signature Indian valanced fenders just below it. It was the one motorcycle its new Polaris owners introduced that deviated the most from the norm. Including a bagger in its initial offerings was a savvy marketing move by Indian Motorcycle. It continues to be one of the most popular segments and there’s numerous custom builders doing big things with them in the aftermarket. Just look at Paul Yaffe’s Bagger Nation.

Indian brass stated it has one goal in mind with the new lineup. To build the premier premium American motorcycle. As it moves forward toward that goal, it pays tribute to the brand’s Springfield heritage and its long history that dates back to 1901 as the first 1901 production models coming out of Spirit Lake will be numbered. The launch of the new models includes plenty of firsts for the Indian brand. The cast aluminum chassis is a first on an Indian, the bike’s skeleton providing both the weight savings and rigidity Indian sought as it attempted to pull mass out of the frame. The progressive linkage system used on the Chief Vintage and Chief Classic is another first on an Indian Motorcycle. The 2014 lineup includes the first hard-faired bagger the company has produced, too.

The Thunder Stroke 111 engine powering the trio of 2014 Indian Chiefs doesn’t share any parts with other powerplants Polaris produces either. Its unit construction crankcase is comprised of two castings. It has large fins that not only help in cooling but feature the same finning and parallel pushrod tubes as Chiefs from the early 1940s. It has a 5.5 quart oil capacity to keep those almost four-inch pistons oiled up and drumming. And do they drum. Indian has worked hard to keep mechanical noise down so its exhaust note is the bike’s defining auditory signature. And I’ll admit, the bike does put out a powerful, throaty growl when you’re on the throttle as it dishes out the lofty claims of 119 lb-ft of torque at the 3000 rpm plateau. This figure exceeds company expectations as Indian initially was shooting to get power numbers in the 115 lb-ft range.

During Indian’s technical presentation on the bike, they said the Chieftain’s styling cues were drawn from Indians from the 1950s, bold bikes with distinctive lines. But the new version departs from the norm by being the first Indianproduced with a hard fairing and hard bags. Indian designed them not only with function in mind, but made them quickly detachable and with the ability to be remotely locked via the bike’s key fob. The saddlebags are big enough to stuff my backpack in which generally holds my 17-inch computer.

The starting process is all-electronic with a key fob taking the place of a traditional key. As long as it’s within proximity of the bike, it will start up. You can turn it on by depressing a button on the tank or engage the electrical system by pushing the traditional handlebar mounted start button once, then press it again to turn the bike over.

Sitting in its leather saddle for the first time, it feels compact for a bagger. The Chieftain is fairly slim in the saddle and it’s easy to get both feet securely on the ground at stop. Its ergos are relaxed and upright courtesy of highway bars and floorboards. The Chieftain’s seat has a comfortable contour and Indian said it intends to adopt it on the other two models as well.

The motorcycle is well-balanced so it’s easy to control during slow speed maneuvers on overcrowded Lazelle Street. Despite its generous size, the fork-mounted fairing doesn’t weigh steering down. Between the wide fairing and the electronically adjustable windscreen, the tandem shelters riders well so there’s little buffeting. The four-inch power windshield is activated via a button on the left handlebar. It pumps 100 watts of audio through two speakers mounted in the front fairing. The sound is clean and loud. The motorcycle also has the capacity to run your smartphone through it and link to your music lists through Bluetooth.

The gear sets on the six-speed transmission have been engineered to quell mechanical noise, and after riding the 2014 Chieftain up to Nemo and through Vanocker Canyon, we’d have to say they accomplished their goal. Gears engage smoothly and quietly as its big, high capacity clutch doesn’t require a lot of spring force. The clutch lever is firm but not stiff and the throttle-by-wire system is dialed so response to input is crisp. It’s so non-descript, it took me a little while to think about the functionality of the transmission because it was easing into gear so naturally. Considering the tremendous amount of torque the engine is doling out, this is no small feat of engineering.

The 2014 Chieftain has good ground clearance thanks to boards positioned high which allows for plenty of lean. It has both the tightest rake of the three new Indian models at 25-degrees and the shortest wheelbase at 65.7 inches. The combination adds up to a bagger that is more than willing to lean into the turns and track true once it gets there.
The engine is smooth yet powerful. Not punchy but strong and consistent. We wanted to crack its throttle more but confess that traffic in Vanocker prevented us from getting the full monty. On the rare occasion we did get to open it up, it pulls with the authority you’d expect from an 1811cc engine. Vibrations in the bars are almost non-existent. In addition to the surface area of its cooling fins, it has an airbox built into the cast aluminum frame to help keep heat down.

The front brakes are powerful thanks to twin 300mm floating discs up front. Four-piston calipers put a strong squeeze without having to mash the lever hard. The units aren’t overly bitey but pressure is immediate and even. Braking duties get an assist from ABS that are part of the factory package, assisting the single 300mm disc out back.

Besides being attractively designed, the instrument console is placed intuitively, the round dial of its analog speedo easy enough to read at speed, as is the analog tach placed opposite it. Between the two dials is a digital readout with four different screens and plenty of information to toggle through. Among its functions are a clock and outside temperature gauge, radio, satellite radio, a plug-in audio device, range indicator, odometer, and a tire pressure PSI readout. Cruise control comes standard and is operated via the right switch control.

The new Indian Chiefs have been the buzz of Sturgis. Every time we stop, someone will approach with a story about an Indian they owned and just about everybody we talked to has responded positively on the direction Polaris has taken.
“The original Indian was an everyman machine and these guys have brought that back,” said one gentleman we met called Ed Murphy, the unofficial “Mayor of Suches, Georgia.”

The 2014 Indian Chief combines classic cues with modern performance and technology. It will run your Bluetooth, tell you your tire pressure, has throttle-by-wire and ABS. It has traditional running lights in the fairing but features integrated LED turn signals too. Classic cues include the red hue the marque is known for, swooping fenders and a lit War Bonnet emblem on the front fender. Its crown jewel is its engine that sits like a mother of pearl within the six-piece modular frame. But it’s more than just a pretty face. It’s like a punch in the nose, which Indian just delivered to its competitors.

As read on:http://www.motorcycle-usa.com/155/16786/Motorcycle-Article/2014-Indian-Chieftain-First-Ride.aspx